Welcome to our Allergy Center
In North Texas, we have the perfect allergy storm: windy, flat conditions with plenty of pollens, weeds, and grasses to aggravate allergies. While we cannot fix our location, we can address the environmental, physical and immune factors that involve the ear, nose, and throat.
The Dallas and Fort Worth area is routinely in the top 20 worst cities in the nation for allergies. If you have itching, sneezing, runny nose, post-nasal drainage, nasal obstruction, or nasal congestion, you may be one of many in DFW suffering from allergies. 1 out of every 4 households in America suffers from allergies. The 2nd leading cause of chronic disease in the United States, behind cardiovascular disease, is allergic rhinitis or hay fever. It’s easy to become frustrated when:
- Over-the-counter medications fail to provide relief
- Allergies cause sleeping problems
- Itching, sneezing, red eyes, and a runny nose become embarrassing
- Your child cannot focus on school due to daily allergies
The ENT & Allergy Centers of Texas provides comprehensive allergy treatment for the entire family at our allergy center. Often patients with chronic sinusitis, ear disease or nasal obstruction have allergies. Their conditions may improve with surgery and medical treatment, but never truly resolve without treatment of the underlying condition causing the inflammation.
The ENT & Allergy Centers of Texas Goals
Our philosophy is to determine the underlying cause of our patient’s ailments, and not to simply treat the symptoms. We do this with 3 goals in mind.
- Identify if you have allergies and to which specific allergens
- Teach you about the various treatment options for your allergies from medication to immunotherapy
- Help you achieve your goal of allergy relief
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are abnormal responses of the immune system to normally harmless substances, also known as allergens. Some of the most common allergens affecting the ear, nose, and throat are pollen, dust, mold and animal dander. When the body is exposed to an allergen, it releases a variety of chemicals, including histamine, which is the precipitating cause of the allergic reaction.
Causes of Ear, Nose, and Throat Allergies
The cause of allergies remains unknown, however, a hereditary factor is involved. If one parent has allergies, his or her child is much more likely than the general population to have allergies. If both parents suffer from allergies, a child has a greatly increased risk of developing an allergy. The specific allergen affecting the child may be different from the one affecting the parent. Allergies may develop over time once a threshold of exposure has been reached.
In most cases, allergic reactions involving the ear, nose, and throat are relatively mild, but may still interfere with everyday activities. Symptoms include nasal rhinitis, which causes sneezing, runny nose, congestion and post-nasal drip. Patients with allergies may also suffer from headaches, itching, and soreness in the throat or ears. When plant and tree pollens cause these symptoms, the condition is commonly referred to as hay fever.
Patients can also suffer from more severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. Allergies of the ear, nose, and throat are reactions to airborne allergens, sufferers may also experience allergic reactions in the eyes, skin, lungs or gastrointestinal tract.
Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
More severe reactions to allergens, such as anaphylaxis, are rare. However, anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. If patients are experiencing anaphylaxis it may present as:
- Palpitations and increase in heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure and lightheadedness
- Redness or rash of skin
- A cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain or cramping
If a serious reaction is encountered administer EpiPen immediately and then call 911. Patients may administer a second EpiPen injection if symptoms continue after 5 minutes. Visit www.myepipen.com for further information. Please click here to download the Anaphylaxis Patient Education Card.
Types of Allergens
There are many foods that can increase allergy symptoms. However, this does not mean that you are allergic to these foods. Patients come to us with mild to moderate “food allergies” are actually the result of cross-reactive foods. Cross-reactive foods are foods that share a protein with an inhaled allergen. This is not to be confused with true food allergies such as peanuts, shellfish and egg allergies which can cause serious reactions such as anaphylaxis. Examples of cross-reactive allergens include molds, weed, and grass.
Molds can affect patients year round. Foods that contain mold cross-react with inhaled mold allergens causing increased allergy symptoms. When the mold count is high and you eat these foods you may find you have worsening allergy symptoms. When the mold count is low you may be able to consume these items with no extra symptoms. Everyone is different; there could be just one or two things on this list that increase your symptoms. The following are examples of allergy causing foods:
- Alcoholic beverages, especially beer and wine
- Canned juice, especially apple and tomato
- Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, catsup, pizza, and spaghetti sauce
- Cantaloupe, grapes, and pineapple
- Aged cheese
- Dried fruits
- Pickled and smoked fish
- Sour cream or milk 3 days or older
- Sourdough breadand baked items using fresh yeast
- Vinegar and foods that contain vinegar including mayonnaise, salad dressings, pickles
Patients should avoid the following foods during high weed season, typically the spring and fall, as well as the day of their allergy injection.
Grains cross-react with grass pollens when eaten during grass season, the summer and spring. This may cause an increase in allergic symptoms or an increased local reaction at the allergy injection site. Patients should avoid eating bread and cereals during grass season and around the time of an allergy shot.
testing for Allergies
In order to determine which allergens cause a reaction in a patient is skin testing. The skin test is an excellent diagnostic tool which measures which allergen causes an actual reaction and provides detailed information. In contrast to skin testing, blood testing and patient history only can provide limited information. At ENT & Allergy Centers of Texas, we offer allergy testing to patients aged 5 and older. In our offices, we have over ten years of experience testing pediatric and adult patients for allergies. We test a comprehensive panel of allergens based on the common inhaled allergens in the area. These include trees, molds, grasses, weeds and pet danders.
Allergy testing is well tolerated by patients, even the youngest patients. Our nurses perform prick testing on the forearm and quantitative testing on the upper arm for our older children and adults. The results are available in real time and our specialty-trained nurses provide counseling to every patient while they undergo testing. This allows patients to understand:
- Their specific allergies
- Environmental avoidance of allergies
- Cross-reactive foods
- Medical treatment options
- Immunotherapy treatment options
Once we have the valuable information from allergy testing and identified which allergens are causing the overreaction, we can provide treatment options. Immunotherapy, retraining your immune system to no longer react to allergens, is the gold standard of treatment. Once the inhaled allergens are treated with immunotherapy, patients can often enjoy their favorite foods again without symptoms. Immunotherapy treatments include allergy shots, allergy drops, and sublingual immunotherapy tablets.
In addition to immunotherapy, we offer a number of different choices to treat your allergies. We are familiar with many homeopathic remedies, some of which can be quite beneficial. Once we determine your treatment method, our staff will counsel you on environmental avoidance techniques including simple steps to improve household air quality. Furthermore, we will discuss the benefits of over-the-counter and prescription medication therapy, allergy injections and sublingual immunotherapy.
Allergy shots are one type of immunotherapy and remain the single most effective treatment option. Immunotherapy of this type involves the slow administration of increasing doses of the allergen. This causes the immune system to “desensitize” to the offending allergen. Eventually, this allows the body to be exposed to a significant amount of pollen or other allergens without burdensome symptoms.
Allergy drops given under the tongue can offer many advantages over allergy shots. First, there are no needles but they have the same effect as the shots. This provides an obvious advantage for those who would like to avoid needles. Allergy drops are applied by putting drops of allergen under the tongue.
Another advantage is that they can be administered these at home, unlike shots for which you need to come into the office. Occasionally, a visit in the office is required, but not nearly as often as for injections. For those whose schedules preclude the ability to come in for a weekly visit, this can be a tremendous benefit. Unfortunately, allergy drops are rarely covered by insurance. However, they can be as affordable as shots depending on your copay for office visits. We can determine the cost difference for you during your visit to our allergy center.
For patients that do not have enough allergies to qualify for allergy shots or drops can benefit from sublingual immunotherapy tablets or SLIT. These tablets specifically treat grass, dust mites, and ragweed allergies.
Are There Allergy Testing or Treatment Side Effects?
Serious reactions to allergy testing, allergy injections or sublingual immunotherapy are very rare. It is still important to understand the symptoms of a serious reaction. The risk factors for serious reactions include previous history of anaphylaxis and asthma.
Allergy Skin Testing Forms
Below is allergy skin testing instructions that our office will provide patients before their test.